Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Classic Euro Economy Cars: Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 (the "cinquecento", /, or "chin-kwe-chen-to", from the Italian word for "500") is a car produced by Fiat company of Italy between 1957 and 1975 (the Fiat 500 K alone was produced until 1977). It was designed by Dante Giacosa.

Launched as the Nuova 500, it was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 2.97 m (9 ft 9 in) long, and originally powered by a tiny 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the term "small car" and is considered one of the first city cars. In 2007 Fiat launched a similar looking, retro-styled car, the Fiat Nuova 500, basing it on the Fiat Panda.

To meet the demands of the post-war market which called for economy cars, the Fiat 500 was rear-engined on the pattern of the Volkswagen Beetle, just like its bigger brother, the 1955 Fiat 600. Several car makers followed this now nearly vanished design at the time and were quite successful, but only the Fiat 500 was used as the template for other car makers in Europe. The firms Neckar of Germany and Steyr-Puch in Austria each made cars that were legally based on the Fiat 500. There were six main models of Fiat 500 produced by Fiat themselves. The original model was called the Nuova (1957-1960).

The Nuova had a smaller engine than all newer models, at 479 cc and producing just 13 bhp. The original model also features a roof folding all the way back to the rear of the vehicle, like that of a Citroen 2CV rather than the later roof design which only folds half way back along the roof. The Nuova is one of three models featuring "suicide doors”. There is also a stylish Sport version of the Nuova, which features a distinctive red stripe and a more powerful engine, bored out to 499.5 cc from the original 479 cc engine and with a longer stroke, thus producing an impressive 21 bhp from the same original block.

The other five models were the “D” (1960-65), the “K” or Giadiniera (1960-77), the “F” or Belina (1965-72), the “L” or Lusso (1968-72), and the “R” or Rinnovata (1972-75). Fiat previewed the all new 500 in March 2007 exactly 50 years after the first Fiat 500 was presented. The design of the new 2007 Fiat 500 is based on the 2004 Fiat Trepiuno concept. The car features a distinctive retro-look just like the Volkswagen New Beetle and BMW MINI but may well be substantially cheaper than those cars, with a starting price of €10,500. The car is 3.55 meters long and 1.65 meters wide. Top speed is 180 km/h (112 mph). The basic price is €10,500 in Italy; with options €15,000. Find out more at:

Research info gathered at:

Now, here’s one of my poems that speaks Italian:

12 Stanzas In A Taxi

In her opinion, a metaphor should be categorized
by size & amount of choices on the menu. By speed
& wind velocity. Whether they are punctual on habitually
tardy. If they've ever been arrested for driving under
the influence. Missed a child-support payment. Filed
for bankruptcy. She feels it should be noted if they have
ever had a bad case of heartburn. Wet in the bed as a
child. Can read music. Chinese characters. Morse code.
Has a preference for frog legs or snails. Can speak at
least 3 different languages. Likes panoramic views. And
perhaps more important, has dived into the deep blue
sea with its headlights still on.

Poem first published at:
Visit my ezine:
And music blog:
Poem Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.


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